November 23, 2023
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Montecito Bank & Trust donates $1 million to nonprofits


Montecito Bank & Trust Chairman Michael Towbes speaks at the Community Dividends event on Nov. 21.

Montecito Bank & Trust Chairman Michael Towbes speaks at the Community Dividends event on Nov. 21.

Montecito Bank & Trust doled out $1 million to nonprofits throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties at its 14th annual Community Dividends event.

The largest financial institution based in Santa Barbara County rung in the season of giving by providing grants to a record-high 203 area nonprofits that primarily serve low- and moderate-income individuals.

“We do this because we recognize and support the invaluable role that all you nonprofits play in enhancing the quality of life for all segments of our society,” MB&T owner and Chairman Michael Towbes told 286 people on Nov. 21 at the Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Montecito. “We do it to encourage other organizations to follow our footsteps and we do it to encourage our employees to volunteer and support these worthy organizations. Most importantly, we do it because it is the right thing to do.”

MB&T President and CEO Janet Garufis recalled her first Community Dividends event soon after she joined the bank 12 years ago.

“I can remember looking around me and feeling incredibly proud,” she said. “I knew in that moment that when I accepted Mr. Towbes’ invitation to join the bank, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”

Because MB&T is a subchapter S corporation owned by Towbes, the bank can pass on its profits to its owner. Towbes has donated what would’ve been paid in taxes — $14 million over the past decade and a half — directly back to the communities it serves.

Bank employees also donated more than 1,800 hours in 2016 by serving on boards, offering financial expertise including the bank’s cybersecurity and financial literacy for seniors programs, fundraising and volunteering.

MB&T recently surpassed Wells Fargo as the top lender in Santa Barbara County for small business loans of $1 million or less. Through October of this year, it has nearly
$50 million in loan commitments, nearly half of which were to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenues.

It has also provided $9.4 million in loans to fund the purchase or construction of more than 85 housing units for low- and moderate-income families in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.


KTYD 99.9 FM helped the Santa Barbara nonprofit Doctors Without Walls raise about $10,000 in a 30-hour radiothon.

KTYD personalities, area musicians, first responders and Doctors Without Walls volunteers joined together at the Benchmark Eatery in Santa Barbara for a broadcast that spanned Nov. 17 through Nov. 18.

The money will help the Santa Barbara nonprofit deliver more mobile health care services to homeless and low-income individuals. The fundraiser supports DWW’s planned expansion into Lompoc and its new medical van.

The nonprofit strives eventually to serve all of Santa Barbara County, officials said.


Leading From Within has expanded its reach to North Santa Barbara County.

The leadership development organization now serves Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and the surrounding areas through its Leading for Community Impact program. The year-long program builds community connections, explores leadership principles, teaches social sector fundamentals and invests in personal and professional development.

“We learned that the leaders of Santa Maria, Lompoc and the surrounding communities face challenges which demand tremendous leadership, innovative thinking and time to collaborate,” Director of Leadership Programs Christa Roth said in a news release. “While leaders had access to great quality workshops, research showed that they were seeking a dedicated time each month to invest in their professional development.”

Leading From Within came out with a human capital survey in April that found that the greatest challenge facing Santa Barbara County nonprofit workers is low pay.

Thirty-one percent of the 433 respondents reported that low compensation is the greatest challenge of working in the sector, making it harder to recruit and retain quality employees.

“If you think about housing and rent in our region, even if you are getting a raise you are not keeping up with the cost of housing,” Executive Director Ken Saxon previously told the Business Times, adding that 28 percent of survey participants said they have not received a pay increase over the past two years.

More than half of the respondents said more than 30 percent of their income is spent on housing, which could be why nearly a third said they are actively looking for other work.

• Contact Alex Kacik at